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Here, there, everywhere... A modest attempt at chronicling my around the world adventure over the next year (or so).

It takes a village...

NAMIBIA | Saturday, 14 March 2009 | Views [386]

On the side of the road in Walvis Bay, Namibia we said goodbye to our little Toyota Yaris and traded up for a beige Toyota Corolla. It was a step up for us in that it had automatic windows and what we discovered at the first fill up-a much bigger gas tank! We made our way up the Skeleton Coast towards the northenmost part of Namibia. We stopped to see their local seal colony but were turned back early in our journey because of, yes washed out roads. ONce again we wished we had a 4WD vehicle. So plan B was to head towards some rock paintings that were a few hours away. As we got close to the paintings we were again turned away by sandy,washed out roads. SO plan C was to head towards Etosha National Park to view some wildlife.

We arrived into the park at midday and decided to camp at the middle rest camp about halfway between the entrance and exit gates. The camp was nice and since we actually arrived earlier then our usual time of 6:30pm we had time to set up our new dinner schedule of "braai" or bbq. Most if not all campsites in southern AFrica have some some of bbq pit at each one because the braai is a big deal in this part of the world. So we had time to boil rice, cut veggies and bake potatoes with our $3 bundle of wood we bought at the grocery store. It was one of the best meals we had in a while and it was actually warm and not out of a package. As the trip went on we got better at preparing meals in the braai pit even making toast at one point on the grate.

We awoke early the next day to get an early start at spotting animals. We drove through the park and realized we had gotten spoiled in Kruger National Park, South Africa in seeing animals. We were only seeing herd type animals in Etosha but it was the rainy season so most animals don't go near watering holes or roads. As we made our way through the park towards our next destination we navigated more washed out roads and sand with our new Corolla. It had a higher clearance and more power but somewhat the same result as the Yaris. We did get it stuck later in teh day twice and were pulled/pushed out by nice families who happened to be going along the same road, thank God!

Our next destintation was a tiny village called Mpungu where were staying with Chaz, a Peace Corp volunteer who also couchsurfed. The dirt road we were on to his village was skirting the Angolan border. The road was not too bad at least for what we were used to plus it had not rained for a few days. We had not talked to Chaz in a few days and had no mobile reception so we were a little unsure of exactly what to expect. We finally reached him and talked enough to get directions and tell him our progress. We pulled into his village of 500 people after 6:00pm and quickly realized this was more like the real Africa that most westerners envision when they think about the continent.

Chaz was a health care educator for the Peace COrp originally from Michigan(!) but had been living in Cinncinati for many years. He and his dog Etofa lived at a small health clinic with Namibian neighbors. The village was spread out with some people living in mud huts, some in corregated shacks and others in concrete houses. Chaz made us dinner and we turned in for the niight to the sound of frogs and cows. The next day we decided to extend our stay two more days because life in the village was slow and relaxed, and the people were really friendly and loved to see "whiteys" like us. Chaz's days were spent teaching and helping people with projects in the village. We joined him for one class he taught to some of the local orphans and gave out some bears sent to him from an organization in the USA. The kids ranged in age from 9-14 but looked much younger. These kids had nothing really and many had tattered clothes and/or items that were really big on them as if they would grow in to them. It pulled at our hearts and minds in trying to just imagine life in a village like this on a daily basis. Jessica was profoundly affected by what we experienced and start to talk about her desire to join the Peace Corp. Like me she had actually started the process years ago only to abandon it for other things in life. For two full days we toured the village, relaxed with Chaz and talked about his life. He had been living in teh village for 16 months and during that time had not been back to the USA once. He was missing parts of the US we could tell but who wouldn't after that amount of time. He loved his work and we were a welcome break from his dailiy routine.

We said goodbye to Chaz and headed down the road to our next destination but not before picking up the headman of the village and giving him a ride to the next village, it was on our way! Chaz had arranged for us to stay the night with another Peace Corp volunteer at our next stop. After almost getting stuck several times we finally made it to paved roads and found Chris, another Peace Corp Volunteer from New Jersey. He was teaching until 5pm so we made ourselves at home on his patio and waited. Chris was an IT guy so he taught basic computer skills to locals in his village. His village was bigger than Chaz's but not much. We made chili for dinner and watched videos from his extensive downloaded movie library. We said goodbye to Chris the next day and headed through the Caprivi Strip towards Botswana and Victoria Falls.

Tags: peace corp, village

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